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Three qualities of a good team player are found in top performing teams, but have you experienced them? Research from Patrick Lencioni, “The 5 dysfunctions of a team” and Khoi Tu, “Superteams” and others, shows that high-performing individuals don’t always make for good team players.

The qualities of humility, drive for the greater good and empathy are essential to collaborate effectively in teamwork.

1.     Be confident and humble

Be the best you can be at your job, confident in your ability to contribute to the team and its goals and humble, aware you are part of something greater than you.  It’s not about your own ego or status or power – arrogance is corrosive, it’s about team success and cohesion – co-powering.

You need to be ready and willing to advocate good practice and to collaborate with your colleagues.  Ready to lead and to follow as circumstances demand.  If you hold back or lack the self-confidence to speak up or confront others when this contribution is needed, the team will not achieve its success potential.

Don’t mistake passiveness for humility. ‘Humble’ demands that you are proactive and contribute to the best of your ability and respect that you are a part of the whole. This includes being reliable and honouring your commitments. Don’t knowingly over-commit, as this sets you and the team up for a failure.

2.     Be motivated and hungry for more

Team members who seek mastery in their own role and skills. Those who want to learn, who are looking to take on more responsibility and set themselves stretch goals, are the kind of good team player you want in your team.  They will be outward-facing and have a good network. They will be interested in how the team’s work contributes to others and willing to use their connections to support the team.

When you show this quality, you are self-motivated, not looking to the team leader to incentivise you to perform. You have an innate desire to achieve great results.  Pitching in to support others and help them develop their skills, rather than point the finger of blame, when others are struggling.  Demonstrating agility, looking for opportunities for the team and able to adapt to the circumstances.  Taking responsibility for your work and contribution to the team goals and hold yourself and others to account to ensure the team’s promises are kept.

3.     Be collaborative and emotionally intelligent

Empathy and the ability to understand other people’s perspectives are essential in effective teamwork. What does that look like in action?

  • Getting on with others and adapting your behaviour to work well with all kinds of people.
  • Good self-awareness and self-control and you’re unlikely to let emotions take over.
  • Socially aware and can pick up clues from others’ behaviour to flex what you are doing to build effective relationships.
  • Seeking to understand and respecting others’ points of view, and embrace diversity.
  • Working from a basis of trust and openness.
  • Collaboration is your default mindset and you’re willing to have the open and honest conversations necessary for high-performing teamwork.
  • Offering supportive and constructive feedback and inviting feedback from others.
  • Able to have the difficult conversations that deal with conflict and leave both parties feeling that they have something positive to work towards.

Becoming a good team player

All three of these qualities are needed for high-performing teamwork.  These are the qualities you want to instil in all and use as the foundation for team culture. Have you experienced this quality of teamwork? Have you seen it elsewhere, so you could copy some of what they do?

OK so this is the good team player.  But you’re probably thinking – I don’t get to choose my teammates.  Before you start thinking about how to encourage these qualities in others, take a moment to critically assess your own behaviour. How do you shape up?

You might find that some teams make it possible to bring these qualities, but in others the trust is lacking and you’re not willing to commit fully.  My question is – can you influence others to improve their behaviour by role-modelling the qualities of a good team player?

Start with building trust

Effective teamwork starts with trust, so do what you can to build trust in the team.

  • Take time to get to know the others as human beings first and workers second.
  • Always take time to connect with the person, before getting down to work.
  • Little things like punctuality and replying to emails promptly help demonstrate trustworthiness. Encourage these behaviours in all team members.
  • Work to ensure courtesy and respect are the basic standards that allow team members to be open and honest with each other.

Knowing what to expect and then delivering on those expectations shows trust.

  • Ensure that you and your team mates are clear on expectations:  what the goals are, who does what and who is responsible.
  • Then follow-up. Show your interest to do your part and to support others in achieving the team’s goals.

Teamwork isn’t always easy, but by developing these qualities, you will find that it can lead to ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’.

Do you have experience of building a strong team? What were the qualities of this team? What helped or hindered effective teamwork? I’m interested in your views and happy to respond to questions. Please leave your comments below or contact me direct.


Amanda helps people become confident leaders and managers, build strong teams and deliver business results.

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